Posts tagged with "Online Privacy"

Green Car by Mina Tocalini for 360 Magazine

Concentric Q×A

In the current age of digital technology, car owners are being forced to consider their vehicle’s susceptibility to ransomware attacks. These malicious cyber-attacks can expose your personal data to online hackers. However, there are certain measures that car owners can take to help prevent security breaches. Proactive car owners are utilizing services like Concentric to safeguard their technology and online identity. 360 Magazine spoke with Laura Hoffner, Chief of Staff at Concentric, and Sam Connour, Concentric Intern, about how to best practice car system security.

What steps can proactive car owners take to protect their vehicles from security threats and hackers?

First, understand that all digital property can be hacked.

Second, as a result, be conscious of what personal technology you connect to or tether with. Understand that if you connect your phone to your car via Bluetooth, someone hacking into your car will then result in vulnerability to your phone (and everything else connected to your phone such as your home Wi-Fi, addresses, credit cards.)

Third, ensure your vehicle’s software is up today. Car makers, like Tesla and Jeep, are known to push out patches for these potential holes hackers can access. Keeping your vehicle up to date will aid in that effort.

Finally, protect that vulnerability by being aware of the modifications you’re making to your vehicle’s software. Don’t let unknown devices connect to your car, and be wary of who has physical access to your vehicle

What makes a car susceptible to ransomware attacks?

Cars are now equal [in terms of susceptibility] to computers as a result of their connectivity capabilities both to the internet and to Bluetooth. If a car is connected to an insecure and unprotected internet connection, hackers are capable of installing malware into a vehicle’s operating or infotainment systems.

What models of cars are the most likely to encounter hacking/privacy issues?

Cars with self-driving capabilities, or features such as lane assist or automatic braking, are particularly at risk. But practically any vehicle made in the past 20 years can be hacked. Generally, vehicles [from] 2007 or newer run a higher risk of personal information being compromised. Car makers, with a warning from the FBI, are taking steps to beef up cybersecurity within their vehicles.

Should customers be weary of certain car brands when buying technology systems for their vehicles? How can consumers find quality retailers with safe car products?

Rather than it being a concern about specific car brands, consumers should instead educate themselves on the risk associated with these vulnerabilities and take proper protocol to mitigate those risks.

Can Concentric offer any services for car owners looking to safeguard their vehicles?

Concentric offers holistic security solutions for our clients. Included in that is a residential risk assessment that can identify specific concerns and vulnerabilities. This is where personal risk associated with property would be assessed, [as well as] physical and behavioral recommendations.

How did your experience as a Naval Intelligence Officer and in the Naval Reserves translate into your current role at Concentric?

Understanding the threat landscape both nationally and internationally– as well as the acknowledgement that we make both micro and macro decisions about risk daily– ultimately prepared me to understand the corporate security landscape. Holistically viewing a problem set and identifying creative solutions are [at] the core of Naval Intelligence, thus it wasn’t a large leap to bring that mindset over with me from the government side.

As Concentrics’ Chief of Staff, what is your best advice regarding car related security?

Car-related security advice is the same as all other security advice we have: educate yourself, your family, and your team to know what risk decisions you are making that have vast implications across your security vulnerability spectrum. Additionally, security is not something to think about when you’re in a crisis. Avoid or better prepare yourself for the crisis beforehand by taking steps to vastly reduce, or eliminate, your vulnerabilities to exploitation.

Computer illustration by Heather Skovlund for 360 Magazine

Your Online Privacy Is in Your Hands

Many Internet users don’t take online privacy seriously because they believe that they have nothing to hide. Even if you don’t want to secure your data from the curious eyes of big brother, you should be aware of other privacy threats on the Internet.

  • Other states: Even if you trust your own government, do you trust other states? Many foreign governments take a keen interest in the online activities of other citizens.
  • Marketers: Advertisers and other businesses use many methods to track your Internet activity to build an online profile that they can sell to other organizations.
  • Acquaintances: Many people who are curious about you will consume your publicly available data that’s of a private nature.
  • Stalkers: Ex-partners, jealous lovers, stalkers, or predators can use malicious software to breach your privacy. Some stalkerware can take your pictures and record your videos through webcams when you’re not aware. Stalkerware can also monitor your physical movements through the GPS on your laptop.

Share Your Data Sensibly

It’s a good idea to take basic security precautions on social media. Accept friend requests carefully. Verify suspicious-looking profiles to ensure that they’re legitimate. Limit posts that carry sensitive information to your friends and avoid sharing confidential information publicly.

When downloading apps, avoid handing out permissions needlessly. For example, does your fitness app really need access to your contacts, camera, and videos?

Of course, set strong passwords for all your social media accounts to keep hackers at bay. A good password should be at least 12 characters long and feature upper case letters, lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.

Avoid Suspicious Websites and Emails

Avoid visiting unknown websites and clicking strange emails and files. Cybercriminals can infect fraudulent websites, emails, and files with malware like adware or spyware that’s designed to breach your privacy, security, or both.

Stay Wary of Strangers

Trust your instincts and be cautious. Avoid friend requests from people you don’t trust. Likewise, please don’t click on links from such people as they may be Trojan horse attacks engineered to install stalkerware on your devices. Similarly, don’t accept tech gifts from strangers. For example, a USB drive or keyboard could be a keylogger that records your keystrokes, allowing a cybercriminal to read your emails or learn your login credentials.

Find a Good VPN Service

Protect your network with a firewall and a top-of-the-line VPN service. For example, Malwarebytes VPN protection will encrypt your data with its technologically advanced software and even mask your IP address.

Without your IP address, states, threat actors find it exceptionally challenging to track you to your location across the Internet. There are other advantages to subscribing to an excellent VPN service too. For one, you can bypass geo-blocks and consume entertainment from different parts of the world. For example, a VPN can allow you to watch Netflix USA while in Canada! But please steer clear of free VPNs as they’re slow, carry spyware, and may even spy on you.

In addition to network security tools, use advanced antivirus software to protect yourself from malware like viruses, worms, spyware, adware, ransomware, and even dangerous stalkerware. With the right cybersecurity software and some vigilance, you can surf the Internet all day stress-free.